Friday, January 01, 2010

In Which I Award The Best of The Best At What They Do 2009 Edition

Sony PSP Game Of The Year
It's not easy being Sackboy. You had one of the most anticipated games your home console had seen in it's generation. Granted, you're in a game that gameplay wise is older than Mario himself, but you have a hook. You give the players very comprehensive tools that allows them to upload and share a seemingly limitless supply of levels. Sounds great, right? It is. So you could imagine the level of skepticism I had when I heard that LBP was getting a portable version. Luckily, love and care was put into LPB PSP. While you sacrifice multiplayer, you gain a fantastic never ending game on the go that you likely already love with an ever-expanding community of creators. Bravo team. Bravo.

Nintendo DS Game Of The Year
Mario And Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
(Bowser: The kindest of all murderous aspiring dictators)
Mario has been cutting through worlds with reckless abandon for ages now. Him and his brother have been kicking it turnbased style for several years now as well. Naturally, when something succeeds, Nintendo will make sequels. We never REALLY got a sequel to Mario RPG on the SNES. What we did get was the Mario and Luigi Saga. (I guess Paper Mario would be the first...but don't interrupt this flow) While decent games, with decent writing, none of them ever really grabbed my attention until Bowser's Inside Story. The insane plot is hilariously written, and contains multiple gameplay styles that includes side scrolling platforming and giant oversized battle sequences that require you to hold the DS book style. A must own for any DS gamer.

Handheld Game Of The Year
Mario And Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
(I have chortles!)
I can't say anything else about this game. It was a bad idea to write a really good description of it in the previous category. So. You guys watch Lost? I don't. I know I should, and I see that seasons 1-5 is on Netflix instant streaming these days. Maybe I'll get around to watching them now. Of course, I'm certain Twitter will spoil the ending to the series for me.

Most Improved Franchise Of The Year
Assassin's Creed
(Image censored. Wang free. Thank you Ubisoft)
Hey guys! Remember Assassin's Creed? The one that was obnoxiously repetitive and mostly consisted of you sitting on benches and pick pocketing people for most of the game? Yeah? I bet you can't wait for the sequel! Well guess what! Here it is! They actually fixed everything. Most games are repetitive. We really should realize it. What the original games problem was that it did NOTHING to disguise the fact that we're just doing the same thing over and over and over and you can't so much trip over your own feet without alerting somebody somewhere. NOW. NOW we have the game I wanted when I booted it up the first time. FINALLY.

Parappa The Rapper Presents: Musical Game Of The Year
The Beatles: Rock Band
(I really don't see how all five of you are going to fit in there)
Have you heard of these guys? They're called The Beatles. It's five Brits that write awesome music. I'm PRETTY sure they're all on drugs though. And I think one of them died and they just replaced him with a look-a-like. The tabloids don't lie. But seriously, the Beatles is one of the biggest acts of all time. Getting the license to make a game that scans their entire musical history has to be one of the most painstaking and awkward tasks of all time. You KNOW people are going to be breathing down your neck at ALL times. Harmonix done did us good. A game that comes across as a fitting tribute to one of the biggest bands of all time, with none of the filler or silliness of an Activision title. The Beatles: Rock Band also has one of the best visual styles of the year. The Dreamscapes can be nothing short of epic. You almost just want to turn on no-fail mode and watch it play.

Assassin Creed's "Boy This Should Have Been WAY More Awesome"
Award of Merit
(Not shown. A horrific scene of cookie obscenity)
I like Scribblenauts. It's true. Which is why it pains me to say it's an awful game. I take back some of that. The game itself is sound. The puzzles are great and range from rewarding to mind numbing. There are two types of puzzles. Traditional thinkin' puzzles, and action based puzzles. The dictionary in the game is nothing short of technological feat. Unfortunately it controls like a drunk boat. Which would be great if you were playing a game about a drunken schooner, but you aren't. You're controlling a boy in a rooster hat sticking steaks to babies and imploding the universe with the LHC.

Licensed Game Of The Year
Batman Arkham Asylum
(Batman: Goddamn)
HEY! A licensed game that's good! And not just "Hey, this is great for a licensed game!" good, like Wolverine Origins or Spider-Man 2. This is just good old fashioned great. You are the Worlds Greatest Detective. You use all of your crazy bat powers (and by bat powers I mean limitless amounts of money to buy the greatest toys ever and years of martial arts training) to stop the Jokers newest stupid plot. The Joker is an idiot. This bull crap never works and he knows it. What was his big plan this time? Take over Arkham is cliche Joker. Anyone with a spork and a wetnap could apparently break out of or take control of this stupid island.

Mario Kart Wii's 3 Steps Forward 2 Steps Back Award
Sony presents The PSP Go!
Alright. I'll level with you. I own one. There. I said it. Mock me all you want. I didn't own a PSP and I like new technology and I wanted to own LBP and Gran Turismo. Big whoop. I'll get on to THAT shit later. So here's the lowdown. The PSP is basically a bomb. Not Sega Saturn or CD:i Zelda bombs, but a bomb none the less. Why is it a bomb? There is no one particular answer. The original console using a disc based format probably doesn't help. The dude isn't exactly portable either, since without a case, the delicate screen is ALWAYS exposed. The library isn't the greatest, it's picked up these days, but for the majority of it's life span, it's been weak. And the DS is just a freight train out of control moving millions of units every month. So why not reboot it? And they did. With this. First of all, it's smaller. WAY smaller. Which isn't bad, but it's not good either. It's an awkward shape, and depending on who you are, you can really cramp up playing this thing. Having no disc drive is a great idea, except for the fact that it was at one point (and still is mind you) a disc based system. You can't even transfer games over if you upgraded to this unit. Also, the store isn't exactly greatest. Some companies don't even seem interested in supporting it. Then....there is that fucking screen again. Not recessed into the unit. Just lying there, waiting for you to just slip it into your pocket so the seams of your denim can show it who's boss. Is it wrong to want my portable gaming device to be a clamshell? I can understand if it were a phone, but this? COME ON!

Award For Cinematic Excellence

Uncharted 2
(The voice of a generation. Almost literally)
Let's get one thing straight. Uncharted 2 is better than anything you'll ever do in your life. Myself included. Perhaps the plot itself isn't exactly Oscar caliber, but it's DAMN good. Damn well written with amazing characters and an amazing cast to boot. Granted, it doesn't make much sense why Nate would be against shooting a guard in a museum only to hurl him off of a building into the icy waters below shortly after this discussion with his accomplice, but hey, whatever. All I know is that the cutscenes are beautiful, the acting is fantastic, and I wish it weren't over.

Best Racing Game Of The Year

Forza 3
(Forza 3: Not Pictured Here)
Hey there. This might come as a shock to you guys, but I'm a HUGE racing fan. I love racing games. Sure, Burnouts, Mario Karts, Need For Speeds,...uh....Roadblasters? They're all fun. But given my druthers, I'll take a sim over them any day of the week. I love everything about sim racers. The beautiful graphics, the faithful renderings and schematics of real life cars, the ability to tweak and tune your favorite car in any way you feel fit just gets me going. I LOVE it. And Forza 3 does it excellently. Need For Speed: Shift deserves an honorable mention. It's a VERY good well balanced blend between Sim racing and arcade racing and I hope to see the Shift franchise to keep going and stray away from the street racing theme that NFS has been prone to do lately.

"That's A Last Gen Feature" Blunder Of The Year Award
(Open During Construction)
There is a lot that can be said about PSN. Yes. It's a free service, but that doesn't mean it has to be treated like a free service. PSN does a lot of things well. For one, in their infinite wisdom, they realized that making the store a browser based application was a fucking stupid idea and changed that last year. Unfortunately, they don't quite seem to know what to do with the space. Awesome games on PSN that are original are few and far between. The PSone classics section is a disgrace at times. But this is all little things. My biggest problem with PSN is that they decided to launch a console, the PSP Go, that is depended SOLELY on this service and it's laissez faire attitude towards content. LBP PSP launched practically a WEEK after it was announced with nary a word to be spoken about why. Will this new game that's coming out be on the network at launch? Hell if I know. Sony isn't talking. What about an older game? Like ____? Good luck getting an answer. Hell, some developers even seem against releasing anything digitally anyways. It's bad times over there, and it shouldn't be.

Best Sequel
Uncharted 2
Did you know that before being the best game of 2009, Uncharted was already the best game of PS3? Sure, MGS4 exists, and countless other multiplatform titles, but Uncharted was the best game. Seriously. It was the tipping point in selling me the PS3 and I don't regret it. While Uncharted was a great game, there were a lot of little things they could have fixed. And they did. Uncharted 2 gave everything a better polish, from the gunplay to the visuals. There are little bits of animation in the game that just completely wow you and it comes across as nothing you've ever seen before. It is a masterfully crafted sequel.

I DO HOWEVER need to give props to Assassin's Creed II. They took a franchise that could have been dead. A poorly received first game can be a death sentence. But they did EVERYTHING right this time. I applaud that team for making what was practically an entirely new franchise.

Best New Original IP
DJ Hero
(MC Escher. Get it?)
I was a skeptic. Activision has burned me lately with the "Hero" franchise. III was passable but ridiculous. World Tour was bad and V was nothing short of boring to me. Not to mention the attempts at band games. Aerosmith was alright, as is Metallica, but when you look at something like the Beatles game, you realize that they're nothing more than JUST branding. Enter DJ Hero. The DJing scene isn't exactly something I follow. All I know is that I like Run DMC and this game has Vanilla Ice and The Killers in it. I took a leap of faith and I enjoyed every second of it. It was fresh and unique (even though really, it's just another reused concept) and the soundtrack of mashups is top notch. I tip my hat to the developers of DJ Hero. They created a new rhythm game that I am more than willing to stick with.

Best Xbox 360 Game of 2009
(Only Console Exclusives)
Forza Motorsport 3
Sue me. This was my favorite 360 game of the year. Bite me. I like racing games. This isn't your award show. I have nothing else to say about Forza 3 and I don't have to defend my decision. Let's just change the subject. I own two Teddy Ruxpin's and two Grubby's. Why? Because they're awesome and I want to start an animatronic fuzzy robot army.

Best PS3 Game of 2009
(Only Exclusives)
Uncharted 2
(Hint Hint)
How much more information do you think I can pass on about Uncharted 2?

Best Wii Game of 2009
(Exclusives or games with exclusive features)
Silent Hill Shattered Memories
(Using a cellphone while running from demons is probably a bad idea)
Did you know that the Wii had a ton of stuff released on it this (2009)year? It's true. Although by reading the internet, you'd never really realize it. And holy shit does this one take the cake. Not an exclusive to the Wii, it was also released on the PS2 and PSP, but they pale in comparison to the Wii version. It's a "re-imagining" of the original game. Which basically means that they just stole the names and basic plot and created a different game around it. This game judges you on a psychological level as you play, which is step one in making a creepy game. You control your flashlight with the IR on the remote. THAT'S awesome. You take horrible crackly cell phone calls with the crappy tinny speaker on the remote. And if you want to ACTUALLY hear what is in the call, you have to hold it up to your ear. And then, all hell breaks loose. No combat. When hell LITERALLY freezes over, you have to run your ass off. This game is nothing short of a delight from start to finish.

Gamestop Presents: We Won't Get Any Money From These
Downloadable Game of the Year
Trials HD
(Shown: Not Trials HD)
It's almost like Excitebike, if Excitebike made me hurl my control the floor and storm out of my own bedroom cursing. This game gets unrelenting to the point of it just being downright mean.

Best Packaging Design
Metriod Prime Trilogy
Nintendo doesn't exactly have a track record, especially these days, with particularly compelling artwork. Hell, one glance at the cover for Bowser's Inside Story would lead you to believe they actually forgot to design the cover and just used the placeholder graphic that stores like Gamestop use to entice you to preorder. But what the hell is this? The Metroid Prime Trilogy, all three phenomenal Prime games on one disc, comes in a very nice steelbook case with beautiful graphics wrapped all around. It even has a little fold out artbook inside. I don't know exactly why Nintendo decided to do this, but son of a bitch, I'm glad they did.

John J. Holders Favorite Of Two-Thousand And Nine That Wasn't Anything Completely and Totally Amazing But Deserves To Be Recognized By SOMEBODY.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 Wii
(Editors Note: This was actually written before the recent..uh...occurrences)
Golf games are awesome.

That's the first time that line was probably ever written. But I stand by it. I love golf games. I think they're always fun. I used to play Fred Couples golf on the 32x almost daily for an entire year. Sierra made an awesome golf game called Front Page Sports Golf that was probably my favorite golfing game of all time. Key word. WAS. Move over Sierra. There is a new Sheriff in town, and his squeaky clean name is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods 2010 on the Wii is one of the greatest sports games ever created. That's not hyperbole either. I genuinely think that. The optional package came bundled with Wii Motion Plus, which basically turns the controller into the device you thought you bought. And with this device you get one of the most fluid, fun, and brilliant golf games ever crafted. It even has disc golf. MOTION PLUS disc golf. Online features are in full force, everything the console counterparts have with less visual OOMPH. But it doesn't matter. This game is a game that should be played at least once by everyone with a Wii.

Game of the Year 2009
Uncharted 2
Seriously. I can't talk about Uncharted 2 anymore. If you want to know more, I'm certain IGN has a 23 page review about it written up.

Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing Presents: Shit Pile of the Year

Tony Hawk's Ride
This man should not be allowed to sell video games anymore. Ride is a pile of shit. Go ahead. Stand on it. Play it. And "play" is a term you can really use loosely since I've seen cats get thousands of points of this damn contraption Activision thought they could pawn off on retailers this holiday season. It may look like a cool novelty, but don't fool yourself. You have zero reason to play this game when a game like Skate 2 or Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 exists in this world. Why torture yourself?